Featured Slider

Why the Jews? | Holocaust Studies

I'm taking an online course through The International School For Holocaust Studies and will be sharing some of what I'm learning from the professors and historians at Tel Aviv University, Yad Vashem, and the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
Why the Jews? Why has antisemitism plagued the world for more than 2,000 years? 
A woman who is concealing her face sits on a park bench marked "Only for Jews." Austria, ca. March 1938

Judaism is an ancient monotheistic religion with unique traditions and customs. In its origin stands obligation to God and his commandments. In the Pagan world such conduct was considered very strange. Even in the Hellenistic and Roman world, Jews were "the others" and hated and feared as such.

The Roman historian, Tacitus, wrote in the beginning of the 2nd century about the Jews as he saw and understood them. In his understanding, Jewish customs shaped them as evil strangers. "Among themselves they are inflexibly honest and ever ready to show compassion, though they regard the rest of mankind with all hatred of enemies."

By the Middle Ages a negative image of Jews as individuals and as a collective, was built. Jews were accused of having crucified Christ and not accepting Him. They were considered the dark ones both physically and mentally. 

Judas Iscariot became the symbol and inclination of betrayal for money. More negative characteristics were added—the capacity of Jews to handle money cleverly and exploit others and their mental capacities that others didn't have. Jews were the middle class. The lower class considered them exploiters who were in favor and interest of the upper class. 

Also adding to these negative characteristic was the centuries old false rumors of the blood libel that claimed Jews used the blood of Christian children for ritual purposes, such as an ingredient in the baking of Passover matzoh. 

People began to believe that the Jews, dispersed throughout the nations, must have some common goal leading them that was both mysterious and dangerous. Judaism became a symbol of something vile and anti-Jewish stereotypes became part of the general Christian European culture. In the modern era, antisemitism added a political dimension to their ideology of hatred. Publications such as Protocols of the Elders of Zion generated support for false theories of an international Jewish conspiracy

Illustration from an antisemitic children's primer Germany, 1936.— US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Anthropologists, biologists, and social scientists began looking at society and humanity as distinct groups of people and races, groups that were clearly different from one another and couldn't be intermixed. So from this conclusion, Jews were considered a completely different type of society. Racial scientists focused on the Jews across Germany and produced a series of studies stating that the Jews were not only different from other Europeans, but unassimilable. 

Radical antisemitism didn't refer to Judaism as a religion, nor as a nation. It was an ideology of prejudice which combined secularized religious myths with pseudo-scientific theories and racism. The Jews were treated as a race, regardless of his or her acts or conversion. Nothing a Jew would have done could have changed his racial character in the eyes of the new anti-Semites. 

Modern politics across Europe embraced anti-Jewish prejudices. Antisemitic movements emerged in which millions of Europeans knowingly and willfully embraced antisemitic ideologies by the end of the 19th and early 20th century. 

SA men carry banners which read "Germans! Defend Yourselves! Do Not Buy From Jews!"
Berlin, Germany, March or April 1933.

This new ideology of prejudice claimed that all evil of the modern society (economic problems, communism, etc) was a direct result of Jewish actions and could be solved accordingly.  The Nazi party gave political expression to the theories of racism. 

Antisemitism became a political tool. 


Evan | A/1/7 and the 1st Marine Division

This is the sixth interview in my WWII reenactor interview series:

1. Why did you choose your impression?

Unlike many in the reenacting world who join directly into a group, I created my own group to do my current impression of a Marine rifleman in A/1/7. I did this because the Marine reenacting portion of the hobby severely lacks groups with high authenticity standards, and my ideals did not line up completely with the Marine group I was previously in. I chose to specifically represent A/1/7 after reading dozens of Marine memoirs, in which the New Britain campaign stuck out the most. The campaign was regarded as the worst of the war by the men of the 1st Marine Division itself, who fought through many terrible campaigns such as Peleliu or Okinawa, yet it goes vastly forgotten. I found a group of similar minded buddies who were interested in portraying the campaign, and A company, 1st Battalion, 7th Marines happened to be the unit we chose. Months later, we still learn more about the courageous Marines we portray, everyday, and we strive to do so as correctly as possible.
2. Can you tell us about your reenacting gear?

Marine reenacting proves to be quite the challenge for those who wish to do it correctly. As the hype generated by HBO's The Pacific dies down, many companies are no longer producing Marine reproductions, and only a few places did in the first place. We spend hours everyday researching and discussing what reproductions are the best, and sometimes months trying to find one. The majority of our items come from SMWholesale, WWIIimpressions, TTO USMC, or are originals.
Here's my basic kit list:

Restored fixed loop m1 helmet
1st pattern camouflage helmet cover
1st pattern Fibre "hawley" liner
P41 utility coat
P41 utility trousers
Navy N1 "Boondockers" boots
P1940 Navy dog tags with silencers

M1923 Marine contract Cartridge belt
M1910 first aid pouch
2nd pattern Marine canteen cover
1st pattern m1941 "riveted" haversack
Marine manufactured bayonet scabbard
Marine manufactured shovel cover
Repainted M1910 "T handle" shovel
Early Khaki ammunition bandolier
Camouflage Marine poncho
Personal items -
Marine hand towel
Navy soap dish
Military bible
1940 "red book" manual
Pack "green book" manual
Weapons -
M1 rifle built with appropriate wartime parts
M1905 bayonet

3. What's your favorite part of reenacting?

My absolute favorite part is spreading the history. I love being able to see friends and discuss in depth about the topics we love. I also love being able to ignite the spark for history in young people that reenactors ignited in me years ago. Another priceless aspect is being able to talk to the family of veterans, and help them to understand what their family member went through, and maybe form a communication bridge they can use, as our World War II veterans sadly continue to pass. Being able to talk to the veterans themselves is a close second. Hearing what they went through from their own mouths, and showing them that there are people out there who care in a world that seems to not, is priceless.

4. What group do you reenact with? Are they recruiting?

My group is A/1/7. We focus on portraying the men of the 1st Marine Division on New Britain in an authentic and historically minded fashion. We are made up of collectors and reenactors alike, and enjoy being able to bridge that gap that divides much of the community surrounding militaria. We focus on engaging younger people, ages 15-25. You can contact us on Facebook via our facebook page, A/1/7 WWII USMC living history group.

We're always looking for more people, who are willing to put in the time, money, and research. Anyone who is willing to do so, and follow our other guidelines, is welcome. We are based in the Midwest but concentrated in Minnesota and Wisconsin, currently with 5 members.

5. What have you learned from reenacting?

I've learned that the more you learn about the past, the more relevant today seems. Reading the accounts of veterans, talking to them, and wearing their gear, sometimes under similar conditions, forms a true appreciation for the sacrifices they made, which for some, was their lives.

6. Who's your favorite WWII hero?

Ed Bearss is my favorite hero from World War II. I knew about him for years when I was a Civil War reenactor but really began to respect him as I became interested in World War II. Ed served as a Marine raider on Guadalcanal, and again with the 7th Marines on New Britain until he was severely wounded at "Suicide Creek". I look forward to speaking with him again and respect him heavily for his life, as well as his continued dedication to preserving history, giving legendary battlefield tours even in his old age.

7. What advice would you give to newbie reenactors?

Strive to be the best you can possibly be. Everyone has different opinions on where authenticity starts and ends, but that will no longer matter when you push yourself everyday. Pick up every quality World War II book you can and fall asleep reading it. Spend your spare time brushing up on the things that interest you, as well as some that don't. Find reenactors you can look up to, as well as ones who can help you out. If their answers are "I don't know" or "it doesn't matter", keep on looking! Lastly, at the end of the day, have fun. None of us are spending vast amounts of money in this hobby to be stressed or miserable. Find where you belong, and be ready to spend many years enjoying it.


If you're a WWII reenactor and would like to be featured on Taking Dictation, email me at: authoremilyannputzke@gmail.com

"Transform That Ground Into Good Soil."

This year I'm trying to read more "wisdom writings" as Matthew Kelly so aptly calls them.

 "To really stretch ourselves, we must delve into the wisdom writings. Selections could include a variety of philosophical texts, the writings of countless spiritual leaders past and present, and the scriptures. It is in these writings that the intellect comes face-to-face with the most profound questions and truths about the world, creation, God, humanity, and our individual journeys. Wisdom writings constantly hold before us the best version of ourselves. These writings may not entertain us, but to reveal to us who we are and why we are here. The wisdom writing gently call us out of our comfort zones and challenge us to improve, develop, grow, and live life to the fullest." —Matthew Kelly 

I'm still building a list of books I want to read this year but some authors include Bonhoeffer, St. Maximilian Kolbe, St. Pope John Paul II, Thomas Merton, C.S. Lewis, Flannery O'Connor, Goethe, and Rilke to name just a few. (The list is continuously growing!) I started re-reading The Diary and Letters of Hans and Sophie Scholl. A lot has changed in the world since Hans and Sophie were young adults in the 1940s, but their fears, confusion, and struggles with growing up and following Christ are the same for us young people today. I'm also reading works by St. Pope John Paul II. (Letter to Young Artists and The Way to Christ.) I chose him as my patron saint of 2017. I have so much to learn from him about God, art, and humanity. Really, I have a lot to learn from all these great writers and spiritual leaders. I'm excited to delve into their work this year!

All that to say, I collected a few quotes/songs that have inspired, comforted, and challenged me.  

The heart loses its way amid these petty commotions and forgets its great homeward route. Unprepared and given over to futile, abject trifles, it may be caught unawares when the time comes, having squandered the one great joy for the sake of little ones. I realize that, but my heart does not ... However stubbornly my heart may cling to its treasures, be it only out of love for the sweetness of life, wrest me away against my will, because I'm too weak to do so myself; turn all my pleasures sour, make me wretched, make me suffer before I dream my salvation away." —Sophie Scholl

It is both a blessing and a curse to feel everything so very deeply." —David Jones

Christianity is the religion of our choice of God. Choosing God, or choosing Christ, means in some way choosing oneself, choosing one's own self in a new way." —St. Pope John Paul II

God is closest when home is farthest, hence the young person's desire to go forth, leaving everything behind, and wander aimlessly until he has snapped the last thread that held him captive—until he stands confronting God in the broad plain, naked and alone. He will then rediscover his native soil with eyes transfigured." —Hans Scholl

Oh, Beth, truly, I don't know if I could ever be good like Marmee. I rather crave violence. If only I could be like Father and go to war and stand up to the lions of injustice ... I want to do something different. I don't know what it is yet, but I'm on the watch for it." —Little Women

My soul is like an arid waste when I try to pray to you, conscious of nothing but its own barrenness. My God, transform that ground into good soil so that your seed doesn't fall on it in vain. At least let it bring forth a yearning for you, its creator, whom it so often declines to see. I call aloud to you, I call you, even though all I know about you is that my salvation resides in you alone. Do not turn away from me if I fail to hear you knock; open my deaf, deaf heart. Make me restless so that I may find my way to the repose that dwells within you. I am so powerless. Receive me and do with me as you will, I beech you, I beseech you." —Sophie Scholl

Beauty is a key to the mystery and a call to transcendence. It is an invitation to savor and to dream of the future. That is why the beauty of created things can never fully satisfy. Its stirs that hidden nostalgia for God which a lover of beauty like Saint Augustine could express only in incomplete terms: 'Late have I loved you, beauty so old and so new; late have I loved you!'" —St. Pope John Paul II

Even when the fight seems lost, I'll praise you. Even when it hurts like hell, I'll praise you. Even when it makes no sense to sing, louder then I'll sing your praise. I will only sing your praise." —Hillsong United
Artists of the world, may your many different paths all lead to that infinite Ocean of beauty where wonder becomes awe, exhilaration, and unspeakable joy." —St. Pope John Paul II

What are some quotes that have inspired, comforted, or challenged you lately?


P.S. Just a heads up, the blog is currently undergoing some revamping. Thanks for your patience! 

Favorite WWII Books of 2016

Rena was on the first Jewish transport to Auschwitz and endured the death camp for over three years. She fulfilled the promise she made to her mother years before—to take care of her little sister. Beautiful and extremely heart wrenching. Five stars.

By Gerda Weissmann Klein

Gerda was just a teenager when the Germans invaded Poland and everyone and everything she loved was taken from her. She survived labor camps and a death march in the winter of 1945. She was liberated by American troops and married Kurt Klein, one of the American soldiers who liberated her. Five stars. 

 Brothers in Battle, Best of Friends
By William "Wild Bill" Guarnere and Edward "Babe" Heffron

I recently wrote a review for this book HERE. It's told back and forth between two paratroopers who fought with Company E, 506th PIR, 101st Airborne. I've seen other reviews that said, "It was like sitting in the living room and listening to your grandpa tell stories." I have to agree with them. I learned so much, laughed at the veterans banter, and was brought to tears by what they went through. Four stars.

By Isabella Leitner

This was a library book, but I kept it long after I finished just so I could re-read parts. The writing is both beautiful and tragic. "Potyo was just thirteen; she was my sister. She had the wisdom of a child of war. She was full of fear, yet tiptoed with tenderness, laughter, and love in a world of madmen. She was a weeping willow, a song of sorrow, a poem of infinite beauty. 'Why does Hitler hate me? Why does he love hate, Mama? I am only thirteen; I have songs yet to learn, games yet to play. Give me time to live, give me time to die. Mama, how can I do all the living in just an inch of time?'"  Four Stars. 

By Ruta Sepetys

This book introduced me to the little known history of Lithuanians under Stalin's rule. I'm super excited that it's being made into a movie! Four stars. 

What were your favorite reads of 2016?


"Sweet Remembrance" Book Trailer

I remember The Little Match Girl being such a tragic tale, but somehow sweet—bittersweet. That’s how this WWII retelling of the story was. I don’t like tragedies, but if you’re going to write one, write it like Emily Ann Putzke did with "Sweet Remembrance." It was captivating. The history of the Jews being brutally persecuted by Germans is hard—the kind of hard where the enormity of it steals the breath from your lungs for a moment. The lost dreams so bitter. But the remembering of a heartfelt romance so sweet. All in all, it’s a sad tale of a horrific time in history … but it ends with a curious kind of hope. A hope that I want to hold onto. Very well written. A bittersweet, heart-tugging story of an ordinary girl in a terrible time. Shantelle Mary Hannu

Sweet Remembrance is my contribution to Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales. The boxset is available on Kindle for $4.99. Grab a copy and let us know what you think by leaving a review on Amazon and Goodreads!


"ONCE" Is Now Available!

Break out the confetti! Today's the day! Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales is now available on Amazon! It's been quite an adventure to collaborate with Suzannah Rowntree, Elisabeth Grace Foley, Rachel Heffington, J.Grace Pennington, and Hayden Wand. I've learned a lot through working with these authors and I'm so excited for you all to read our boxset!

To give you a taste of the collection, we're each sharing an excerpt from our retellings today. So without further ado, a snippet Sweet Remembrance, my WWII retelling of The Little Match Girl.

I soaked in every detail—the polished floors, the feel of lush fur coats against my arm as ladies brushed past me, the smell of cigar smoke that hung in the air, and the hazy, warm, elegant atmosphere that made my skin tingle with excitement. I followed Romek to our seats, my eyes drawn to the lights glimmering above us. A din of voices flooded the room.
“I’m sorry our seats are so far in the back,” he said.
“I don’t mind.” I really didn’t. I was bewitched by the sights and sounds. Even the seats felt like heaven. My body relaxed as I sank into the velvet cushion. I glanced over at Romek. He was staring at me with an amused grin.
“What?” I asked, blushing. He must have thought me silly to be so enthralled by something so natural to the rest of society.
“You’re refreshing.”
Unsure of his meaning, I ignored the statement and made one of my own instead. “Stop staring at me.”
“I’m not staring at you!” He quickly looked down at the program he was bending into a mangled-up fan.
“Yes, you were. It makes me nervous.” The lights began to dim. I scooted to the edge of my seat, hands clasped tightly in front of me.
“I wasn’t staring!” He lowered his voice to a defensive whisper. He just had to get the last word in.
“Shh! The concert’s starting.”
He fell back into his chair with a defeated sigh.


Be sure to read excerpts from the other retellings in this collection!

Mountain of the Wolf by Elisabeth Grace Foley
She But Sleepth by Rachel Heffington
Rumpled by J. Grace Pennington
Death Be Not Proud by Suzannah Rowntree
With Blossoms Gold by Hayden Wand

Grab a copy of Once:Six Historically Inspired Fairytales for $4.99 on Kindle! Please spread the word about our boxset using the hashtag #OnceFairyTales and adding Once: Six Historically Inspired Fairytales to your Goodreads shelf.


Black Friday Sale!

As I sit here drinking my coffee at nearly noon, I realize I'm kinda behind on this whole Black Friday thing. I like sleeping in. And coffee. But fear not, because you have all weekend to get the eBook and paperback copy of Ain't We Got Fun on sale! If you haven't read the story yet, here's the perfect time to grab a copy. If you have read it, well ... Christmas is just around the corner and I'll bet you have some book lovers on your Christmas list!

eBook: $0.99 
Paperback: $7.99
(Use the code JY7C6V68 on Createspace.com)

Ain't We Got Fun
By Emily Chapman and Emily Ann Putzke 

It was never much of an issue for Bess: living contentedly on her family's farm, despite the Depression which loomed around them. But when her older sister Georgiana takes off to New York City to make a fortune and help Papa out, feelings of adventure and wanderlust strike Bess at home. Through their lively letter correspondence, the sisters recount to one another their adventures, surprises, and heartaches, leaving little room for depression. For in a world of such wonder, ain't we got fun?